Best of MLB: Brawls lead to 8 ejections in Tigers' win over Yankees

USA Today Images

Best of MLB: Brawls lead to 8 ejections in Tigers' win over Yankees

DETROIT -- Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera and Yankees catcher Austin Romine wrestled on the ground near home plate during the first of three bench-clearing altercations during the Tigers' testy 10-6 victory over New York on Thursday.

Five players were ejected, along with both managers and the Yankees' bench coach.

Justin Upton and James McCann homered for Detroit, and Gary Sanchez went deep for the Yankees, but that all became secondary on a day when the umpires had their hands full trying to maintain order. Major League Baseball figures to be busy now, sorting out likely suspensions that could especially hurt the playoff-contending Yankees.

The winning and losing pitchers -- Detroit's Alex Wilson (2-4) and New York's Dellin Betances (3-5) -- were among those ejected. Betances was tossed after hitting a batter in the helmet with a pitch, and argued with the umps.

The ill will carried over to the Detroit dugout, too, where star pitcher Justin Verlander and teammates Victor Martinez and Nicholas Castellanos got into some sort of dispute.

Shane Greene got five outs for his fourth save (see full recap).

Dodgers top Pirates for 90th win
PITTSBURGH -- Yasmani Grandal and Adrian Gonzalez hit back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled away from the Pittsburgh Pirates for a 5-2 victory Thursday, their 90th win of the season.

Grandal's 18th of the year gave the Dodgers a two-run lead. Gonzalez pushed it to three moments later with a shot to nearly the same spot in the right-field seats for his second of the season and 100th with Los Angeles. Curtis Granderson hit his 22nd home run of the season. Chris Taylor chipped in three hits and Kike Hernandez added two hits on his 26th birthday.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (5-6) held the Pirates to one run over six innings. Brandon Morrow worked the ninth for first save since 2009. Los Angeles improved to 90-36, becoming the 12th team in major league history to reach the 90-win plateau in 126 games (see full recap).

Valaika HR helps Rockies rally past Royals
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Pat Valaika hit a two-run homer with two out in the eighth inning and Greg Holland finished for his 36th save in the Colorado Rockies' 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.

Valaika snapped an 0-for-12 slide, driving a full-count pitch from Mike Minor (5-6) to left after Gerardo Parra singled.

Holland worked a perfect ninth. He allowed Eric Hosmer's game-ending, three run homer in the ninth inning Wednesday night and was 0-4 with three blown saves in his previous six appearances.

Adam Ottavino (2-3) struck out two in a perfect seventh.

The Rockies snapped a four-game losing streak with just their fifth victory in 17 games.

Rookie Jake Junis limited the Rockies to one run and seven hits over 5 1-3 innings. He matched his career high with seven strikeouts and walked one. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in three August starts, walking one and striking out 16 in 19 1-3 innings.

Whit Merrifield and Brandon Moss led off the Royals' first and second innings with home runs. It was Merrifield's third career leadoff home run, all this season, and his eighth hit in 15 at-bats. Moss hit his 17th home run, 14 of them with the bases empty (see full recap).

Ben Lively states his case for spot on Phillies' pitching staff

USA Today Images

Ben Lively states his case for spot on Phillies' pitching staff


CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies will be without Mark Leiter Jr.'s versatile arm for about six weeks. An MRI performed Monday on the pitcher's sore right forearm showed a strained flexor muscle.

Leiter had a good chance to make the opening day roster as a long reliever or fifth starter. With him out, the Phillies could be in need of a swingman.

Could Ben Lively be that guy?

"I can pitch anywhere," the competitive 26-year-old right-hander said. "I don't care. Wherever they want, I'll pitch."

Lively did nothing to hurt his chances of making the club as he turned in five shutout innings against the Toronto Blue Jays in a rain-shortened 2-0 win Tuesday afternoon. He allowed just three hits, walked none and struck out four. He was particularly impressive in the fourth inning, striking out Justin Smoak and retiring Russell Martin on a tapper back to the mound with runners on second and third.

"I just tried to bear down and stick to the game plan," Lively said. "There's too much technology around here now. We have all the heat maps and we talked about it before the game and I just stayed with it."

Lively made 15 starts with the big club last year and 10 of them were quality starts in which he went at least six innings and gave up three or fewer earned runs. Lively doesn't have power stuff. He gave up 9.1 hits per nine innings last season and struck out just 5.3 per nine. Management would love to see some improvement in those areas — i.e., more of what he displayed on Tuesday.

"Lively was strong today," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He came out and attacked the zone.

"One of the things that is important is that we see some swing and misses with Lives and we saw a couple of bat-missing moments today that were, to me, a big deal. He induces quick contact, which is important, but we also like to see the ability to miss bats and we saw that on a couple of occasions, (Curtis) Granderson being most notable."

Granderson struck out twice against Lively.

"We look at past tendencies from recent years," Lively said of his pregame study. "The main one we looked at today was Granderson. He has a low slugging percentage on the outer half (of the plate), so we pounded him on the outer half the whole time."

With Jerad Eickhoff headed to the disabled list and Nick Pivetta likely to join Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta and Vince Velasquez in the starting rotation, Lively appears to be vying for the fifth starter's job with Zach Eflin and non-roster invite Drew Hutchison. But he and Hutchison also could be vying for a long man's job in the bullpen.

By mid-April, the Phillies will probably have an eight-man bullpen. But they could break with an extra reliever because they won't need a fifth starter until April 11.

However it shakes out, Lively did not hurt his chances of landing some role with his performance Tuesday.

Roster moves
The Phillies sent catcher Logan Moore, infielder Mitch Walding and outfielder Andrew Pullin to minor-league camp.

What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

Photo: NBCSP

What's up with Phillies top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez?

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Sixto Sanchez, the Phillies' top pitching prospect, has been noticeably absent from game action in minor-league camp.

Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development, says there's nothing to be alarmed about.

"He had the flu and he's over it now," Jordan said. "He's fine now. No issues. He's 100 percent."

Jordan said Sanchez got up to 30 pitches in a bullpen session this week.

"He let it go with all his pitches," Jordan said.

Jordan added that Sanchez would pitch in a game in the next few days. He added that Sanchez would open the season on time with the Clearwater club, though his innings will be watched at the outset until he's fully stretched out.

Sanchez, 19, is a power-armed right-hander with remarkable control. He went 5-7 with 3.03 ERA in 18 starts at Lakewood and Clearwater, both Single A affiliates, last season. He pitched 95 innings, struck out 84, walked 18 and had a WHIP of 0.958.